What do you think about all the crime shows on TV? Every day, I see an ad for a new reality crime show on I.D. Plus, on other channels, we have First 48, Body of Evidence, Cold Cases, The Investigators, and others. I took stock of them yesterday when I noticed some upcoming new ones. We have something called Nightmare Next Door, a new one that's something about mansions (wealthy people being murdered or committing them, I think), we have FBI Pursuit, True Crime, I Almost Got Away With It, The Devil You Know (being married to killers, or some type of criminal, I believe),, Dateline, and so many more. There are also the fictional depictions on all the Law and Orders and Criminal Minds shows.
Without there being an intense fascination with crime, murder in particular, since most of the shows do deal with that particular offense, the networks wouldn't keep putting them out there. I would like to say that because my writing focuses mainly on crime fiction, I watch them all for research purposes, but that's not really true. I don't necessarily get specific ideas from any of these shows, although I'm certain some things find their way into my subconscious, but that's not my reason for watching them. And I will admit to you that I do watch them. All. Every chance I get. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I'm obviously not alone in my 'addiction' to these.
What is it about them that draws so many viewers? Even though they all concern crime, they focus on different types of offenders from different backgrounds, fugitives, what it's like living with a killer, and so on. It's like there's a killer around every corner. Is that what they're trying to tell us? What is the attraction to such horrific information? What do you think? Too much or just about right? And most importantly, is this information we really need to have?
I hate all reality shows. I don't like real crime stuff either, though I read the newspaper. One wants to know where the dangerous parts of the city are. And from a professional standpoint, it's necessary to stay in touch with the real world.
As to the fascination with violence: it's human. The ancient Romans exploited it. So did law enforcement and the church during earlier ages in Europe. It explains the well attended guillotinings of the French revolution and the burning of witches, and the public executions.
Do we need to know? I'm not sure about that. Maybe people steel themselves for the moment when it happens to them.
I'm with you IJ on most of those reality shows. I happened to tune in once (I won't mention the name of the show--it's one of the dumbest), where the primary players in this reality show were going over their scripts and doing re-takes on their spur-of-the-moment events. I never believed the camera just followed them around and caught their actual lives, but seeing them rehearsing just made me ill and it just confirmed to me how ridiculous those shows were.
When it comes to crime though, I have to admit, I am hooked. I don't know whether I'd be among the crowd watching a witch burn or attend a public execution, but I agree with you. For some bizarre reason, the fascination with violence, the more extreme it seems, is a human trait. Go figure.
If you haven't seen Stanley Tucci's portrayal of a serial killer in the 2009 film adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, "The Lovely Bones," I'd certainly recommend it. It was a terrific performance; one that was far more frightening than what passes for tension and suspense in most Hollywood films today.
Well, now. I'm not sure I feel altogether comfortable receiving a "benefit" from experiencing another person's suffering and death.
Tolstoy uses this view in "The Death of Ivan Ilych" where the superficial upper class colleagues "experience" the news of Ivan's death with the complacent thought: "It's he who's dead. Not I." The story then demonstrates what a man very much like them "experiences" when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer: "Not I! Not little Ivan. This cannot happen to me."